Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce - About us

Chamber History


Williamsport Lycoming Shamber of CommerceFebruary 2010

This is the third in a year long series of articles taking a look back at the Chamber's history in celebration of its 125th Anniversary.  The Chamber was founded on December 15, 1885 as the Williamsport Board of Trade.

            In researching the Chamber's history one of the things that amuses me is the writing style and the use of different terms.  The writing is very formal as well as being what I would describe as "flowery".  Below is an excerpt from the Chamber's Annual Report of the Chamber of Commerce for 1927 given on October the 10th.  (Notice the use of "chamber of commerce" as opposed to Board of Trade - more on that in a future article.)

            "Among the members of the Chamber of Commerce are men of initiative and achievement.
            These men know what Williamsport needs and how its progress can be promoted.  They favor more industries, increased business, more homes and larger opportunities for municipal growth and development.  In a word, they stand for a "Bigger and Better Williamsport."  It has been so since this organization of public spirited citizens was founded forty-two years ago.  Each year progress is shown in making Williamsport a more progressive and a better city.
            It is a recognized fact that the Chamber of Commerce and its parent organization, the Board of Trade, has paid big dividends in the form of increased business enterprise and civic spirit."
            I have written several times in this publication as well as others why businesses should belong to the chamber here in Williamsport and Lycoming County as well as in whatever community they do business. I have said that a company should not join a chamber just to expect direct business from it but, instead, to do it as a matter of business necessity.  Evidently it was something the members discussed in 1927 as well.  That sentiment was expressed in the 1927 Annual Report eerily close to how I have said it.
             "A Chamber of Commerce is not an organization which deserves to be "supported" in the sense that one supports a worthy charitable or philanthropic organization.  A Chamber of Commerce is a business necessity, just as essential to the successful operation of business enterprises as is the production or sales departments of these businesses.
            It is this because the business men in every community have important problems which directly affect the operations of their individual businesses, and which can only be solved through organization and to the intelligent cooperation with other business interests in our community. The time has come when the financing of all local Chambers of Commerce should be considered by business men as a necessary business expense."
            I couldn't have said it any better myself!  Now, what were some of the issues of 1927?  Well, interestingly enough, one concerned something that is again an issue - the need for air service.  Why it was 1927 when it came to the forefront as an issue for the Chamber to take on was not coincidental.  According to the 1927 Annual Report, it was because of Charles Lindbergh.  The following section of the report was entitled:
"A Municipal Airport".
            "The wonderful achievement of Colonel Charles Lindbergh, who startled the world when he flew across the ocean and reached its objective, Paris, did much to crystallize public thought on the possibilities of aerial transportation. Williamsport appears to be a strategic location for the establishment of an airport."
            The report goes on to talk about a committee they appointed and what questions the committee would find answers to as it relates to the issue of constructing an airport in Williamsport.  The Committee was chaired by Walter H. Norton and among its members was George R. Lamade.
            Another issue dealt with in 1927 and discussed in the Annual Report concerned the question of whether or not the City of Williamsport should purchase the privately owned Williamsport Water Company.  It talks about an "exhaustive" study done by members of the Chamber with the conclusion that -It seems to be clear that if the city of Williamsport is ever to acquire and operate this public utility, now is the time to do it. The final decision must rest with the voters who will be given an opportunity to express themselves at the November election."  Unfortunately, I could not find in any of the Minutes following November a discussion of what happened in the election.  If anyone knows, drop me a line and I will report it in next month's story.